At least 190 Air Nigeria passengers, stranded for 8 hours at Gatwick Airport, were shocked Saturday morning when the Airline crew asked them (passengers) to contribute £40 each to enable them purchase fuel to depart the London airport for Lagos after the flight’s takeoff was delayed.
The travelers arrived Gatwick Airport 8:30 Saturday morning to fly back to Nigeria but were informed of lack of fuel to fly the aircraft to Lagos.
The passengers on Flight LOS-VK 0292/08, who were surprised by the request, confronted the airline official who had made the request, and he quickly disappeared from the riotous scene.
The flight, which was scheduled to fly out of London at 9:50a.m, eventually did so at 4:30 pm, arriving in Lagos at 12:30 Sunday morning.
Another drama, however, took place in Lagos when the passengers arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and discovered their baggage had not arrived with them.
Again, they were left stranded for several hours in Lagos before an official of the airline told them to return the next day for their luggage.
It was learned that the airline’s bag handling service, Swissport, refused to provide ground-handling services to the airline because Air Nigeria had not met its obligations to the company.
Air Nigeria operations suspension and sack of workers
The management of Air Nigeria had on Tuesday announced the suspension of all its local, regional and international operations with effect from Monday, September 10, 2012.
A statement from the airline said the suspension was largely due to staff disloyalty and environmental tension, “which are not conducive for business in the aviation sector.”
The airline said it regretted any inconvenience the decision would cause its loyal passengers on all the routes and advised them to contact agents from whom they had purchased tickets for refunds.
According to the statement, the Chairman of the airline, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, said that it was difficult to continue further investment in the carrier with the high level of staff disloyalty and weak business environment.
“But we are strongly committed to ensuring that Air Nigeria survives,” he added.
Ibrahim said about 50 loyal members of staff from various departments of the airline had been selected with a mandate to recommence business within 12 months, while the others had been relieved of their employment effective from the last day of work on their various routes.
Ibrahim explained that the suspension of all the operations of Air Nigeria was not unusual.
Air Nigeria (formerly Virgin Nigeria), was established in 2004 when the Federal Government and Virgin Atlantic Airways signed a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding that gave birth to the airline. Air Nigeria, then trading as Virgin Nigeria Airways, started operating on June 28, 2005 with flights to London.
Air Nigeria had a few months ago suspended its local and regional flights after its pilots embarked on a nationwide strike.
The carrier later resumed operations after its aircraft were certified safe and secure by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
After operating for sometime, it announced that it was suspending its local and regional flights after the industry regulator, NCAA, accused it of being in financial distress.
The carrier’s international operation had, however, been operating until Tuesday’s decision to suspend all operations.